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November 29, 2012 | last updated November 29, 2012 11:27 am

Biologist: Lobster abundance may be species' weakness

One of the chief threats to Maine's top fishery — lobsters — could be an abundance of the species.

This year, Maine lobstermen saw low prices and a glut of lobsters, but a University of Maine biologist said that abundance could, in combination with environmental factors, put the species at risk, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Robert Steneck, a professor at the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center in Walpole, told the audience at a three-day lobster symposium starting Wednesday that the number of lobsters is higher than ever.

But Steneck warned that changes in the overall diversity of species — mostly a loss of large predatory fish — in the Gulf of Maine and rising water temperatures could make that population susceptible to a disease catastrophic for the species.

Steneck cited the spread of a bacterial infection that continues to hurt the lobster fishery in southern New England.

Last year, 100 million pounds of lobster were brought ashore from Maine waters, worth $330 million at last year's wholesale prices, the newspaper reported.

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